Jens Bjornavold worked for many years at CEDEFOP as a lead international expert on the interrelationships between education, training, and the labour market, the changing nature and role of vocational education and training, the role of learning outcomes and competences in reforming education and training policies, and the continuous development national and European qualifications frameworks. The validation of non-formal and informal learning is a key part of these strategies and policies. This refers to the formal validation of the knowledge and skills that individuals acquire in the workplace and other settings that contributes to workforce development policies; to aiding the transferability of these for persons moving between the informal and formal economies; and supporting the career development of the individuals and groups concerned.
Over 20 years ago, Jens raised awareness among the EU career guidance community of the relationship between the processes involved in the formal validation of such learning and those of providing career guidance to persons who already have workforce and other life learning experiences.
Coordinating Guidance and Validation is a report of a 2017 CEDEFOP investigation of concerns about the coordination and coherence of different services providing these two processes, drawing on the experiences of 12 EU countries. It serves as a good introduction to this topic. However, more attention needs to be paid to the common training (or its absence) of both career practitioners and the validators of non-formal and informal learning. To what extent during initial and continuous training are career practitioners made aware of the the existence of such services, the processes involved, and the services offered for the validation of non-formal and informal learning? To what extent during their initial and continuous training are validators made aware of the existence, processes, and services offered for career guidance for adults? The answers to both questions are likely to be embarrassing despite Jens’ efforts of 20 years ago.
The validation of non-formal and informal learning is important for workforce development in both formal and informal economies. If career guidance is really concerned about workforce transitions, and not just about education to work transitions, then more attention needs to be paid to giving career practitioners the knowledge and skills to help individuals and groups to obtain formal recognition of competences acquired through non-formal and informal learning.